Although eight people were arrested on drug charges on Westminster's west side during the weekend, concerns about drug infestation have sparked a neighborhood cleanup to support police action, authorities said.
City officials are recruiting downtown residents, businesses, college students and police officers to join the Neighborhood Cleanup Day on Saturday to boost community pride. They want to send a message to landlords that renting to drug dealers and addicts is unacceptable.
Fliers distributed in the neighborhood say the cleanup will begin at 8 a.m. in front of Vince's Seafood at West Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Officials expect it to continue until noon.
Since August, police have made about three dozen drug-related arrests within two blocks of that intersection.
Mayor Kenneth A. Yowan said city public works crews will supply gloves, trash bags, safety vests and other equipment to clean up trash and debris.
"We are hoping for a good turnout," said Yowan, noting that fraternity and sorority members from Western Maryland College might offer assistance.
Police Chief Roger G. Joneckis said the mayor and Common Council had begun planning a neighborhood cleanup before residents formed the Westside Community Task Force to rid their neighborhood of open-air drug activity.
Joneckis agreed that community drug problems cannot be "arrested away." He said city, police and residents' efforts are falling into place to attack the problems from different perspectives.
Don Schumaker, Western Maryland College spokesman, said student government leaders were pushing hard to get students involved. The college, he said, wants to be a good neighbor and lend help wherever it's needed.
"It's our neighborhood, too," Schumaker said.
"Some of our officers have already volunteered to come and bring along members of their families to help out," Joneckis said.
At noon, volunteers will be invited to gather at Dutterer's Park off the 100 block of Pennsylvania Ave., where free hot dogs, pizza, sodas and other refreshments will be provided by business owners and civic organizations.
"The city's cleanup will bring people together, and we're just trying to extend that a little longer, asking business owners and others to support the gathering for another two hours," Joneckis said.
The weekend arrests occurred after police, with help from undercover Maryland State Police, hung out on street corners and parking lots near West Main Street and Pennsylvania Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights to buy $40 bags of crack cocaine.
According to charging documents, the covert police stings were similar.
Undercover law-enforcement officers were approached and asked, "What's up?" The officers replied they were "looking for 40." They were led to a man who offered a bag of suspected crack cocaine in return for $40.
In some instances, the suspected cocaine was fake. In others, the substance tested positively for crack cocaine.
Anthony G. Hill, 35, of the first block of Troutbrook Circle in Reisterstown. He was being held at the Carroll County Detention Center on $50,000 bail. He was charged with distribution of crack cocaine, possession of cocaine and possession of marijuana.
Keith D. Rochester, 30, of the 500 block of Rosehill St. in Baltimore. He was being held without bail on charges of distribution of crack cocaine, possession of cocaine and conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Vincent M. Barber, 21, of the first block of Ward Ave. in Westminster. He was being held without bail on charges of distributing crack cocaine and possession of cocaine.
Darryl S. Carroll, 36, of the first block of E. W. George St. in Westminster. He was being held on $35,000 bail on charges of distributing crack cocaine, possession of crack cocaine and manufacturing and distributing crack cocaine. In an unrelated case involving an allegation that a protective order was violated, Carroll's bail was set at $5,000.
Hubert O. Mason Jr., 40, of the 5300 block of Hodges Road in Sykesville. He was being held on $15,000 bail on charges of distributing crack cocaine and possession of cocaine.
Herman F. Costley, 26, of the 800 block of Streaker Road in Sykesville. He was being held without bail on two charges each of distributing crack cocaine and possession of cocaine
Mansur E. Young-Bey, 20, of the 3700 block of Elkader Road in Baltimore. He was being held on $15,000 bail on charges of distributing crack cocaine and possession of cocaine.
George L. Tucker, 34, of the first block of Union St. in Westminster. He was released on an unsecured $10,000 bond after being charged on three counts each of possession and distribution of look-alike drugs.